Jury deliberations continue this morning in ‘Unite the Right’ trial

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — The jury for the deadly “Unite the Right” trial will continue their deliberations Monday morning.

After more than eight hours of deliberation on Friday, the judge, Hon. Norman K Moon, dismissed jurors though they hadn’t reached a verdict.

The jurors were given 47 pages of instructions outlining the relevant legal standards that they will need to consider when reaching a verdict; however, they were instructed not to discuss them with anyone else.

He also reminded the jurors, “you aren’t to read, listen, watch anything concerning the case over the weekend.”

courthouse in Charlottesville
Courthouse in Charlottesville, Va. (Photo: Alex Thorson)

The federal lawsuit alleges that two dozen white nationalists and white supremacist organizations conspired to commit violence during the 2017 Unite the Right rally, when James Fields drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing Heather Heyer and injuring others in the chaos of the weekend.

Though it hasn’t been reached yet, the verdict in this case boils down to conspiracy.

To succeed, plaintiffs must prove the existence of a conspiracy involving two or more people, with hostility toward Black or Jewish people.

In closing arguments, prosecutors argued the organizers came for a battle in Charlottesville, recruiting foot soldiers and coming armed with flagpoles doubling as weapons.

The defense has worked to separate the organizers of the rally from Fields, painting him as a lone wolf. They argue the organizers could not have foreseen the violence, and their sometimes racial phrasing and communications prior to the rally is protected by the First Amendment.

Just after 11:30 a.m. it was reported the jury had a question — “Are words a form of violence?” The judge thinks they are referring to a specific jury instruction, either 17, the purpose of the conspiracy, or 30, the First Amendment.

You can read the complaint from the court records here.

8News continued to follow the trial throughout the day on Monday. At 4:45 p.m. on Monday the judge said the jury had been dismissed for the day. It is unclear when the trial will resume. There was no verdict reached on the six claims.

This is a developing story. Stick with 8news for updates.

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